How to Pick A Right Bike Inner Tube: The Buying Guide

Published On:
how to pick a right bike inner tube featured

Bike inner tubes are inflatable rubber tubes that fit inside your bike tires and hold the air pressure. They are essential for ensuring a smooth and safe ride, as they affect the rolling resistance, traction, and shock absorption of your bike. However, not all inner tubes are the same, and choosing the wrong one can lead to problems such as flats, punctures, and poor handling.

There are several factors to consider when you plan to pick a right bike inner tube, such as the size, valve type, material, and quality. These factors determine how well the inner tube fits your tire and rim, how easy it is to inflate and deflate, how durable and resistant it is to damage, and how much it weighs and costs. Choosing the right inner tube for your bike can make a big difference in your cycling experience and performance.

That’s why we have created this bike inner tube buying guide, to help you find the best inner tube for your bike and avoid common mistakes. In this guide, we will explain how to measure your tire and rim size, how to choose the right valve type and length, how to compare different materials and thicknesses, and how to check the quality and reliability of the inner tube. By following this guide, you will be able to pick the perfect inner tube for your bike and enjoy a smooth and safe ride.

1. Measure Your Tire and Rim Size

One of the most important factors to consider when picking a bike inner tube is the size. The size of the inner tube must match the size of your tire and rim, otherwise it will not fit properly and may cause problems such as flats, punctures, or poor handling. Therefore, before picking an inner tube, you need to know your tire and rim size.

The easiest way to find your tire size is to look at the markings on your tire sidewall. These markings usually indicate the tire diameter and width, such as 700x25c, 26×2.1, or 27.5×2.4. The first number is the tire diameter, which is measured in millimeters (mm) for road bikes and inches for mountain bikes. The second number is the tire width, which is also measured in mm or inches. Sometimes, the tire size is also expressed in ETRTO, which is a standard system used by the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization. The ETRTO size consists of two numbers separated by a dash, such as 25-622, 54-559, or 61-584. The first number is the tire width in mm, and the second number is the rim diameter in mm.

To find your rim size, you need to measure the rim diameter and width using a ruler or a tape measure. The rim diameter is the distance from one edge of the rim to the opposite edge, measured along the center of the rim. The rim width is the distance from one side of the rim to the other, measured at the widest point. You can also use the ETRTO size to identify your rim size, as the second number in the ETRTO size is the same as the rim diameter in mm.

If you need to convert different size units, you can use the following formulas:

  • To convert inches to mm, multiply by 25.4
  • To convert mm to inches, divide by 25.4
  • To convert ETRTO to inches, divide the second number by 25.4 and add 0.5
  • To convert inches to ETRTO, subtract 0.5 and multiply by 25.4

To help you choose the right inner tube size for your tire and rim size, you can use the following table or chart that shows the common tire and rim sizes and their corresponding inner tube sizes:

Tire SizeRim SizeInner Tube Size
700x23c622x13c700×18-25c
700x25c622x15c700×18-25c
700x28c622x17c700×25-32c
700x32c622x19c700×25-32c
700x35c622x21c700×32-47c
700x38c622x23c700×32-47c
26×1.5559x19c26×1.25-1.75
26×1.75559x21c26×1.25-1.75
26×2.0559x23c26×1.75-2.125
26×2.1559x25c26×1.75-2.125
26×2.2559x27c26×1.75-2.125
27.5×2.0584x23c27.5×1.75-2.125
27.5×2.1584x25c27.5×1.75-2.125
27.5×2.2584x27c27.5×1.75-2.125
27.5×2.4584x29c27.5×2.1-2.4
29×2.0622x23c29×1.75-2.125
29×2.1622x25c29×1.75-2.125
29×2.2622x27c29×1.75-2.125
29×2.4622x29c29×2.1-2.4

2. Choose the Right Valve Type and Length

Another important factor to consider when picking a bike inner tube is the valve type and length. The valve is the part of the inner tube that allows you to inflate and deflate the inner tube using a pump. There are two main types of valves: Schrader and Presta.

Schrader valves are the same type of valves that are used on car tires. They have a wide and flat stem with a pin in the center that opens when you press it. Schrader valves are easy to use and compatible with most pumps, but they are also bulky and heavy, and they may not fit some narrow rims. Schrader valves also tend to lose air pressure faster than Presta valves, as they do not have a lock nut to seal the valve.

Presta valves are the type of valves that are used on most road bikes and some mountain bikes. They have a narrow and long stem with a threaded tip that has a lock nut. To inflate or deflate a Presta valve, you need to unscrew the lock nut and press the valve tip. Presta valves are lighter and more aerodynamic than Schrader valves, and they fit most rims. Presta valves also retain air pressure better than Schrader valves, as they have a lock nut to seal the valve. However, Presta valves are more difficult to use and require a compatible pump head or an adapter.

To choose the right valve type for your bike, you need to consider the size of your rim and the type of your pump. If you have a wide rim and a standard pump, you can use a Schrader valve. If you have a narrow rim and a Presta-compatible pump, you can use a Presta valve. If you have a narrow rim and a standard pump, you can use a Presta valve with an adapter.

To choose the right valve length for your bike, you need to consider the depth of your rim and the clearance of your pump head. The valve length is the length of the valve stem that sticks out of the rim. The valve length must be long enough to allow you to attach the pump head and inflate the inner tube, but not too long to interfere with the brake pads or the spokes. The depth of the rim is the distance from the outer edge of the rim to the inner edge of the rim, measured along the center of the rim. The clearance of the pump head is the distance from the base of the pump head to the tip of the valve that it can reach.

To find the right valve length for your bike, you need to measure the depth of your rim and the clearance of your pump head, and then add them together. The valve length should be equal to or slightly longer than the sum of the rim depth and the pump head clearance. For example, if your rim depth is 40 mm and your pump head clearance is 10 mm, you need a valve length of at least 50 mm.

To help you choose the right valve length for your bike, you can use the following table or chart that shows the common valve lengths and their corresponding rim depths:

Valve LengthRim Depth
32 mm15-20 mm
40 mm20-25 mm
48 mm25-30 mm
60 mm30-40 mm
80 mm40-60 mm

3. Compare Different Materials and Thicknesses

The third group of important factors to consider when picking a bike inner tube is the material and thickness. The material and thickness of the inner tube affect the weight, durability, puncture resistance, air pressure retention, rolling resistance, and comfort of your bike.

The most common material used for bike inner tubes is butyl rubber, which is a synthetic rubber that is cheap, durable, and widely available. Butyl rubber inner tubes are relatively heavy and thick, but they also offer good puncture resistance and air pressure retention. Butyl rubber inner tubes are suitable for most types of riding and terrain, as they are reliable and versatile.

Another material used for bike inner tubes is latex, which is a natural rubber that is lighter, thinner, and more elastic than butyl rubber. Latex inner tubes offer better rolling resistance and comfort, as they conform to the shape of the tire and reduce the friction and vibration. Latex inner tubes also have a lower risk of pinch flats, as they can stretch more than butyl rubber.

However, latex inner tubes are also more expensive, less durable, and more prone to air leakage than butyl rubber. Latex inner tubes require more frequent inflation and maintenance, and they may not be compatible with some rim tapes and sealants. Latex inner tubes are suitable for performance-oriented riders who want to optimize their speed and efficiency.

The third material used for bike inner tubes is polyurethane, which is a synthetic polymer that is lighter and thinner than butyl rubber, but more durable and resistant than latex. Polyurethane inner tubes offer the best of both worlds, as they combine the low rolling resistance and comfort of latex with the high puncture resistance and air pressure retention of butyl rubber. Polyurethane inner tubes are also self-sealing, as they can repair small punctures by themselves.

However, polyurethane inner tubes are also the most expensive, and they may not be widely available. Polyurethane inner tubes are suitable for riders who want to have the best performance and protection possible.

The most common thickness of bike inner tubes is standard, which is usually around 0.9 mm for butyl rubber, 0.6 mm for latex, and 0.5 mm for polyurethane. Standard inner tubes offer a good balance between weight, durability, puncture resistance, and comfort, and they are suitable for most types of riding and terrain.

Another thickness of bike inner tubes is lightweight, which is usually around 0.6 mm for butyl rubber, 0.4 mm for latex, and 0.3 mm for polyurethane. Lightweight inner tubes offer lower weight and rolling resistance, which can improve your speed and efficiency. However, lightweight inner tubes also offer lower durability and puncture resistance, which can increase your risk of flats and damage. Lightweight inner tubes are suitable for riders who want to minimize their weight and maximize their speed, and they are often used for racing and time trials.

The third thickness of bike inner tubes is heavy duty, which is usually around 1.2 mm for butyl rubber, 0.8 mm for latex, and 0.7 mm for polyurethane. Heavy duty inner tubes offer higher durability and puncture resistance, which can reduce your risk of flats and damage. However, heavy duty inner tubes also offer higher weight and rolling resistance, which can reduce your speed and efficiency. Heavy duty inner tubes are suitable for riders who want to maximize their durability and protection, and they are often used for touring, commuting, and off-road riding.

To choose the right material and thickness for your bike, you need to consider your riding style, terrain, and preference.

For Different Types of Riding

  • For racing, you need to choose an inner tube that is lightweight and thin, which can reduce the weight and rolling resistance of your bike and improve your speed and efficiency. You also need to choose an inner tube that is comfortable and elastic, which can conform to the shape of the tire and reduce the friction and vibration.
  • For touring, you need to choose an inner tube that is durable and thick, which can resist punctures and damage from long and rough rides. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a high air pressure retention, which can keep your tire inflated for longer and reduce the need for frequent inflation and maintenance.
  • For commuting, you need to choose an inner tube that is reliable and versatile, which can handle different types of riding and terrain, such as urban, suburban, or rural areas. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a good balance between weight, durability, puncture resistance, rolling resistance, and comfort, which can suit your daily needs and preferences.
  • For off-road riding, you need to choose an inner tube that is sturdy and resistant, which can cope with the challenges and obstacles of off-road terrain, such as rocks, roots, mud, or sand. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a low pressure and a high traction and shock absorption, which can improve your grip and control on uneven and slippery surfaces.

For Different Types of Terrain

  • For smooth surfaces, you need to choose an inner tube that can reduce the rolling resistance and vibration of the tire and the surface, which can improve your speed and efficiency. You also need to choose an inner tube that can withstand the heat and friction generated by the tire and the surface, which can prevent the inner tube from overheating, melting, or bursting. You also need to choose a thin and light material, such as latex or polyurethane, which can reduce the weight and rolling resistance of your bike. You also need to choose a standard or lightweight thickness, such as 0.6 mm or 0.4 mm, which can improve the speed and efficiency of your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the higher end of the recommended pressure range, which can reduce the rolling resistance and vibration of your bike.
  • For rough surfaces, you need to choose an inner tube that can increase the traction and shock absorption of the tire and the surface, which can improve your grip and control on uneven and slippery surfaces. You also need to choose an inner tube that can resist punctures and damage from sharp objects or debris on the surface, which can prevent the inner tube from being damaged or deflated. You also need to choose a thick and durable material, such as butyl rubber or polyurethane, which can resist punctures and damage from rough terrain. You also need to choose a standard or heavy duty thickness, such as 0.9 mm or 1.2 mm, which can protect and cushion your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the lower end of the recommended pressure range, which can increase the traction and shock absorption of your bike.
  • For flat surfaces, you need to choose an inner tube that can optimize the rolling resistance and comfort of the tire and the surface, which can improve your speed and efficiency. You also need to choose an inner tube that can retain the air pressure and shape of the tire and the surface, which can prevent the inner tube from losing air pressure or deforming. You also need to choose a light and thin material, such as latex or polyurethane, which can reduce the weight and rolling resistance of your bike. You also need to choose a standard or lightweight thickness, such as 0.6 mm or 0.4 mm, which can improve the speed and efficiency of your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the middle of the recommended pressure range, which can optimize the rolling resistance and comfort of your bike.
  • For hilly surfaces, you need to choose an inner tube that can adjust the rolling resistance and traction of the tire and the surface, which can improve your speed and efficiency on downhill and uphill sections. You also need to choose an inner tube that can withstand the stress and strain of the tire and the surface, which can prevent the inner tube from stretching, tearing, or bursting. You also need to choose a versatile and medium material, such as butyl rubber or polyurethane, which can suit different types of riding and terrain. You also need to choose a standard or lightweight thickness, such as 0.9 mm or 0.6 mm, which can balance the weight, durability, and comfort of your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the middle of the recommended pressure range, which can adjust the rolling resistance and traction of your bike.

For Different Types of Weather

  • For hot weather, you need to choose an inner tube that can withstand high temperatures and UV rays, which can cause the inner tube to expand, lose air pressure, or degrade. You also need to choose an inner tube that can reduce the friction and heat generated by the tire and the road, which can cause the inner tube to overheat, melt, or burst. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a high air pressure retention, which can prevent the inner tube from losing air pressure due to the heat. You also need to choose a thin and light material, such as latex or polyurethane, which can reduce the weight and rolling resistance of your bike. You also need to choose a standard or lightweight thickness, such as 0.6 mm or 0.4 mm, which can improve the speed and efficiency of your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the lower end of the recommended pressure range, which can allow the inner tube to expand without causing damage.
  • For cold weather, you need to choose an inner tube that can withstand low temperatures and moisture, which can cause the inner tube to contract, lose air pressure, or freeze. You also need to choose an inner tube that can increase the friction and traction of the tire and the road, which can improve your grip and control on slippery and icy surfaces. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a high puncture resistance, which can prevent the inner tube from being damaged by sharp objects or debris. You also need to choose a thick and durable material, such as butyl rubber or polyurethane, which can resist punctures and damage from rough terrain. You also need to choose a standard or heavy duty thickness, such as 0.9 mm or 1.2 mm, which can protect and cushion your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the higher end of the recommended pressure range, which can prevent the inner tube from losing air pressure due to the cold.
  • For wet weather, you need to choose an inner tube that can withstand water and moisture, which can cause the inner tube to rust, corrode, or leak. You also need to choose an inner tube that can increase the traction and shock absorption of the tire and the road, which can improve your grip and comfort on wet and bumpy surfaces. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a high puncture resistance, which can prevent the inner tube from being damaged by sharp objects or debris. You also need to choose a durable and resistant material, such as butyl rubber or polyurethane, which can resist water and moisture. You also need to choose a standard or heavy duty thickness, such as 0.9 mm or 1.2 mm, which can protect and cushion your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the middle of the recommended pressure range, which can balance the traction and shock absorption of your bike.
  • For dry weather, you need to choose an inner tube that can withstand dust and dirt, which can cause the inner tube to clog, wear, or tear. You also need to choose an inner tube that can reduce the rolling resistance and vibration of the tire and the road, which can improve your speed and efficiency. You also need to choose an inner tube that has a high air pressure retention, which can prevent the inner tube from losing air pressure due to the dryness. You also need to choose a light and thin material, such as latex or polyurethane, which can reduce the weight and rolling resistance of your bike. You also need to choose a standard or lightweight thickness, such as 0.6 mm or 0.4 mm, which can improve the speed and efficiency of your bike. You also need to inflate the inner tube to the lower end of the recommended pressure range, which can reduce the rolling resistance and vibration of your bike.

To help you compare different materials and thicknesses of bike inner tubes, you can use the following table or chart that shows the common materials and thicknesses and their corresponding features and benefits:

MaterialThicknessWeightDurabilityPuncture ResistanceAir Pressure RetentionRolling ResistanceComfortCost
Butyl RubberStandard (0.9 mm)MediumHighHighHighMediumMediumLow
Butyl RubberLightweight (0.6 mm)LowMediumMediumMediumLowHighMedium
Butyl RubberHeavy Duty (1.2 mm)HighVery HighVery HighVery HighHighLowMedium
LatexStandard (0.6 mm)LowLowLowLowLowHighHigh
LatexLightweight (0.4 mm)Very LowVery LowVery LowVery LowVery LowVery HighVery High
LatexHeavy Duty (0.8 mm)MediumMediumMediumMediumMediumMediumHigh
PolyurethaneStandard (0.5 mm)LowHighHighHighLowHighVery High
PolyurethaneLightweight (0.3 mm)Very LowMediumMediumMediumVery LowVery HighVery High
PolyurethaneHeavy Duty (0.7 mm)MediumVery HighVery HighVery HighMediumMediumVery High

4. Check the Quality and Reliability of the Inner Tube

Last but not least, the quality and reliability of the inner tube is also one of the most important factors to consider when picking a bike inner tube. The quality and reliability of the inner tube determine how long it will last and how well it will perform on your bike. A poor quality or unreliable inner tube can cause problems such as flats, punctures, or blowouts, which can ruin your ride and put your safety at risk. Therefore, before picking and using an inner tube, you need to check the quality and reliability of the inner tube.

One way to check the quality and reliability of the inner tube is to inspect it for any defects, such as holes, cracks, tears, or bulges. These defects can indicate that the inner tube is damaged, defective, or faulty, and that it may not hold air pressure or seal properly. To inspect the inner tube, you need to take it out of the packaging and examine it carefully under a bright light. You can also stretch and squeeze the inner tube to see if there are any weak spots or irregularities. If you find any defects, you should return or exchange the inner tube for a new one.

Another way to check the quality and reliability of the inner tube is to test it for any leaks, such as by inflating it and submerging it in water or by using a spray bottle with soap and water. These methods can help you detect any small holes or punctures that may not be visible to the naked eye, but that can cause the inner tube to lose air pressure over time. To test the inner tube, you need to inflate it to the recommended pressure and then either submerge it in a bucket or a sink of water or spray it with a mixture of soap and water. You can then look for any bubbles or foam that indicate the presence of a leak. If you find any leaks, you should patch or replace the inner tube.

You can also read the reviews and ratings of the inner tube from other customers and experts, such as by looking at the number of stars, the feedback, and the pros and cons, to check the quality and reliability of the inner tube .

These reviews and ratings can give you an idea of how well the inner tube performs, how durable and resistant it is, how easy it is to use and maintain, and how satisfied other users are with it. You can also learn from the experiences and tips of other users, such as how to install, inflate, and repair the inner tube.

To read the reviews and ratings, you can visit online platforms such as Amazon, eBay, or BikeRadar, and search for the inner tube model that you are interested in. You can then filter and sort the reviews and ratings by relevance, date, or popularity, and read the most helpful and informative ones.

To help you choose a high quality and reliable inner tube for your bike, you can also look for some reputable and reliable brands and models of bike inner tubes, such as Continental, Schwalbe, Michelin, or Vittoria. These brands and models are known for their excellence and innovation in bike inner tube technology, and they offer a wide range of options for different types of riding and terrain.

Conclusion

In this bike inner tube buying guide, we have covered everything you need to know about how to choose the right inner tube for your bike. We have explained how to measure your tire and rim size, how to choose the right valve type and length, how to compare different materials and thicknesses, and how to check the quality and reliability of the inner tube. We have also provided some tables, charts, examples, tips, and links to help you make the best decision and get the most out of your inner tube.

Choosing the right inner tube for your bike can make a big difference in your cycling experience and performance. A good inner tube can enhance your speed, efficiency, comfort, and protection, and reduce your risk of flats, punctures, or blowouts. A bad inner tube can ruin your ride and put your safety at risk. Therefore, it is important to consider all the factors and options that we have discussed in this guide, and to find the inner tube that suits your bike and your riding style.

Thank you for reading this bike inner tube buying guide. We hope you have found it helpful and informative. If you have any feedback, questions, or comments, please feel free to share them with us. We would love to hear from you and help you with your cycling needs. Happy riding!

Photo of author
AUTHOR

Randy Joycelyn

Randy is the founder and editor of Cycling Soigneur. He has been passionate about cycling since he was a kid. He has been riding bikes for over 10 years. Cycling has just become a part of life.

Leave a Comment